You may have heard rumors circulating that D2L is “going away.” Such rumors undoubtedly cause misgivings, even if you are not particularly fond of D2L. Below is a synopsis of what we know regarding the status of D2L. After the status update, there is an FAQ. If you are left with more questions, please feel free to contact the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning at

Synopsis of the status of D2L

The UW-System issued a request for proposals (RFP) on January 25th, 2017 for a learning environment. Desire2Learn is our current learning environment (LE). The RFP is part of the standard procedure that all contracts must undergo to ensure a fair and competitive bid process. The term of the UW-System’s contract with D2L is coming to an end and the System is committed to having a truly competitive process in which all vendors may freely submit proposals.

While the prospect of changing to another learning management system sounds daunting, the RFP process has also been a time for UW-System to get feedback from instructors regarding their experience with our current LMS. Interested faculty may read these findings in the Learning Environment Needs Analysis report.

In general, the report finds that UW-System faculty align with their counterparts in higher education regarding learning management systems. On the one hand, Learning management systems have a very high usage rate and the majority of courses use it to facilitate at least some aspect of teaching and learning. On the other hand, frustration with the limits of the LMS are as high as the usage rate. As a result, the current request for proposals is an opportunity to search out an LMS that is more user-friendly and better facilitates teaching and learning.

The UW-System should be commended for its insistence upon having an open bid process. Nonetheless, once the call is launched, the RFP process will proceed apace.

We will keep you updated as the RFP process progresses.


So, you’re saying D2L is going away, right?

Not necessarily. UW-Madison has already decided to make the switch to a new learning environment, called Canvas. Yet, UW-System is conducting its own RFP process. It is possible that D2L will remain the LE for UW-Green Bay.

When will I have to change my class?

UW-System has not decided on a new learning management system. Yet, if they do decide to change, the transition will take place over multiple semesters, if not years. For example, UW-Madison committed to Canvas in Spring 2016 and will not implement it fully until Summer 2018 (LINK).

If we stay with D2L, will I have to make any changes?

If the RFP process results in D2L – in consultation with stakeholders at the member campuses – it will not be entirely the same. It is likely that D2L would host our courses rather than servers in Madison. This switch would entail moving courses from the current servers to the D2L cloud. In addition to changing the hosting location of the course, instructors would have to change their classes to accommodate any “updates” to D2L. Yet, despite these changes, the design of the course would largely remain as they are.

What support will I have to re-create my course in a new Learning Management System?

Once the RFP process runs its course, the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning will make specific plans to support instructors as they cope with changes to the digital learning environment. There will likely be multiple layers of support ranging from trainings in the new system to individual help with individual courses. Again, the UW-Madison transition timeline is a useful example to use as a guideline (LINK).

My course is certified with Quality Matters. Will I loose my certification?

No. Quality Matters is agnostic when it comes to which learning management system hosts your course.

But, they asked about the LMS in the course worksheet for QM?!

Yes, but QM asked about the LMS so that they could find reviewers who were familiar with the system.

What is the difference between a Learning Management System (LMS) and a Learning Environment (LE)?

It depends on who you ask. Generally, learning environment is a newer term that refers to the aspiration of providing a digital medium in which instructors can place the tools that will work best for their particular classes. One instructor may cultivate a different environment from her colleague. Whereas a learning management system is a more all-inclusive digital classroom in which everyone gets the same set of tools and it is relatively difficult to customize to suit the needs of a particular instructor. Educause has done the most work to promote the idea that the Learning Environment is a better metaphor for thinking about using digital tools than the learning management system (LINK). In educational tech circles, learning environment is replacing learning management system as the standard term for products such as D2L.

So, getting a new digital learning environment will be a great opportunity to freshen up my course and try out some cool new assignments, right?

You got it. The potential move is a great opportunity to look at your course with fresh eyes.

That’s just double-speak.

Yes. But, just as moving is a pain that also helps one to de-clutter, so too does this potential change offer instructors a chance to dust-off their courses.

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